Western Kentucky guard Don McHenry (2) and Western Kentucky forward...

Western Kentucky guard Don McHenry (2) and Western Kentucky forward Babacar Faye (5) battle UTEP forward Kevin Kalu (34) for a loose ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Conference USA Tournament final, Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Huntsville, Ala. Credit: AP/Vasha Hunt

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Don McHenry scored 25 points on 9-of-16 shooting with four steals to help No. 3 seed Western Kentucky beat UTEP 78-71 Saturday night and win the Conference USA Tournament for the first time in program history.

Western Kentucky (22-11), which joined the conference in 2014, won its first conference tournament since 2013, the Hilltoppers’ last season in the Sun Belt Conference.

Brandon Newman scored 15 points and Khristian Lander added 11 for Western Kentucky. Babacar Faye grabbed 10 rebounds to go with nine points, three blocks and three steals.

Zid Powell scored 21 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead No. 5 seed UTEP (18-16) with 21 points. Otis Frazier III and Tae Hardy added 11 points apiece.

Powell scored eight points — including a pair of 3-pointers in a 34-second span — as the Miners opened the second half with a 17-6 run that gave them a 53-47 lead with 13 minutes to play. Western Kentucky responded with a 13-0 run, taking the lead for good on layup by Lander with 10:24 left, as UTEP missed eight consecutive shots and committed three turnovers in the next 4-plus minutes.

McHenry made a layup and hit a jumper before Enoch Kalambay made 1-of-2 free throws to push the lead the 10 with about 5 minutes to go and the Miners trailed by at least seven the rest of the way.

UTEP missed 10 consecutive field-goal attempts to open the game.

UTEP forward Kevin Kalu (34) dunks on Western Kentucky during...

UTEP forward Kevin Kalu (34) dunks on Western Kentucky during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Conference USA Tournament final, Saturday, March 16, 2024, in Huntsville, Ala. Credit: AP/Vasha Hunt

___

Get poll alerts and updates on AP Top 25 basketball throughout the season. Sign up here

YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED

FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.